A “Filipino Monkey” nearly triggered a war between the US and Iran last January 6 — a war that could have the potential to transform Earth into a Planet of the Apes.
Navy Times, the US Navy journal, has reported that a heckling radio ham known as the “Filipino Monkey,” who has spent years pestering ships in the Persian Gulf, is being blamed for sparking a major diplomatic row after American warships almost attacked Iranian patrol boats.
US warships nearly came within seconds of firing at the Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz after hearing threats that the boats were attacking and were about to explode.
Senior US navy officials have admitted that the source of the threats, picked up in international waters, was a mystery.
But now the Navy Times has claimed that the threats, which were broadcast last week by the Pentagon, apparently came from an infamous radio prankster who could in all probability be a Filipino or a group of Filipinos working in that part of the Middle East.
Otherwise, sailors who have claimed hearing the pestering voice on the airwaves would not have dubbed it “Filipino Monkey.”
Indeed, the Pentagon video clip broadcast last week in CNN did carry the threatening voice of what sounded like a Filipino, based from the intonation.
The Navy Times said the “Filipino Monkey,” who could be more than one person, listens to ship-to-ship radio traffic and then interrupts, usually with abusive insults.
Rick Hoffman, a retired captain, told the paper: “For 25 years, there’s been this mythical guy out there who, hour after hour, shouts obscenities and threats. He used to go all night long. The guy is crazy. Could it have been a spurious transmission? Absolutely.”
Hoffman said the renegade talker repeatedly harassed ships in the Gulf in the late 1980s.
The Navy Times, which serves the Navy community, said U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf have heard the prankster — possibly more than one person — transmitting “insults and jabbering vile epithets” on unencrypted frequencies.
“Navy women — a helicopter pilot hailing a tanker, for example — who are overheard on the radio are said to suffer particularly degrading treatment,” the newspaper said. “Several Navy ship drivers interviewed by Navy Times are raising the possibility that the Monkey, or an imitator, was indeed featured in that video.”
Filipino Monkey is a name used by mariners around the globe for someone who uses his radio for unnecessary or inappropriate transmissions.
It also is sometimes used by the prankster himself. Two Navy officers said they have personally been aboard ships elsewhere in the world when all of a sudden they’ve heard someone from another vessel come on the radio and say, “Filipino Monkey, Filipino Monkey” over and over again in a singsong voice.
Last week, the Iranians and the US issued different video versions of what took place.
On the Pentagon’s version, a strange voice, in English, can be heard saying “I am coming to you. You will explode in a few minutes.” The voice sounds different from one heard earlier in the recording and there is no background noise that would usually be picked up from a speedboat radio.
In the Iranian version, there is no hint of aggressive behaviour.
The Pentagon said it recorded the film and the sound separately and then edited them together to give a “better idea of what is happening.”
But Commander Lydia Robertson, a navy spokeswoman, admitted: “We don’t know for sure where they (the threats) came from. It could have been a shore station.”
The US lodged a formal complaint with Iran over the incident. President George Bush even warned Tehran of “serious consequences” unless it stopped such aggression.
During the 20-minute incident, five Iranian patrol boats swarmed around three US warships and came within 200 meters, putting the ships on alert.
The US navy said its gunners came within seconds of firing on the speedboats.
Oh well, the Filipino Monkey must still be laughing non-stop up to now, having fooled even the mighty navy of the world’s only superpower. That’s very Filipino. Laughter even at the expense of others, or even if it brings trouble to others, is still something worth laughing about to Filipinos. It’s the balm for all the ills of Philippine society.
But why they call that Filipino prankster “monkey” is another issue altogether. Ah, those racist Western mariners!
(Photo caption: This image released by the US Navy on Jan. 8, 2008 and shot Jan. 6 from the bridge of the destroyer USS Hopper, shows a small blue boat, alleged to be Iranian, purportedly racing near the wake of U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf.